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The FAA’s New Rule Proposal For Drones and RC Aircraft – PLEASE COMMENT

Seems the FAA just isn’t ‘Happy’ enough.  The following is from Model Airplane News:

“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued the proposed rule for remote identification of drones, which by strict definition include RC model aircraft. We encourage our audience to read the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking now in the Federal Register and share their comments.

The following regulations are in the proposed rule and would impact the RC hobby.

>It would limit the number of approved flying sites

>All flying sites must have internet capability

>Requires registration of every aircraft


Click here to comment and make your voice heard!”
Don’t Wait!


Below is the response from SEFSD member John Forester:



To: United States Senators and Members of Congress

The FAA has issued a proposed rule regarding model aircraft flying: Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Federal Register Dec 31, 2019, pgs 72438-72524.

The proposed FAA system will destroy the present system for amateur, recreational flying of model aircraft. This contradicts the promises FAA has given to the public and to Congress that the present system for amateur, recreational flying of model aircraft will be maintained. It appears that Congressional action is required to force the FAA to keep its promises.

Present flying of model aircraft

At present, model aircraft may be flown within sight of the pilot on the ground, at low altitude,  anywhere except in specified spaces around airports where the model’s operation would interfere with the operation of full-size aircraft. The only means by which each model aircraft is identified is by a label that states its owner and his address. Such an aircraft requires a landing field that acts as its airport but may not be recognized as such by any other person. If that landing field is close to an airport, then permission to operate that landing field must be obtained from the airport operations office.

The FAA  has allowed certain community-based organizations to establish rules for the safe operation of model aircraft by their members. One such organization is the Academy of Model Aeronautics, of which I am a member (#523616). The AMA was started in 1936, has about 200,000 members, and is the only organization authorized to hold international model aircraft events in the USA. I, myself, am 90 years old, born in 1929, started making models in 1940 and started flying radio-controled models about 1970.

My local club is Silent Electric Flyers of San Diego, flying from a field near Mission Bay. Because this field, while two miles from San Diego Airport, is completely out of the traffic pattern of that airport, we operate under permission from that airport.  SEFSD has about 350 members, and we have members flying every day in which the weather is suitable (except when we are notified that all private flying is closed to protect an important person, say a visit by the President). Our runway is usually operated with westward traffic. The simplest flight is takeoff westbound, fly an approximate circle to return near the east end of the runway, and then land westbound. The most complicated flight would involve a complex sequence of aerobatic maneuvers (the kind of flying I like best). We allow up to six planes in the air simultaneously. Despite having this mixed pattern of simultaneous use, by keeping eyes open we have an acceptably low level of mid-air collisions.

FAA proposed ideal system

It appears that the advent of multi-rotor small aircraft (nicknamed “drones”) stimulated the FAA to issue its proposed rule. Drones are very easy to fly, they don’t need landing fields (they can start or stop anywhere with sufficient space to contain them, or even hover), they can perform commercial work, and they can operate out of sight of the operator on the ground. The FAA decided to replace the present system for unmanned flight with an entirely new system suited to this concept of drone operation. All unmanned aircraft will be referred to as UAS.

There will be no officially recognized landing fields with their own airspace. Any flight may start anywhere and end anywhere, but must not enter the controlled airspace surrounding airports. In order to identify the operator of any UAS that enters prohibited space, every UAS will be required to continually (every second) transmit an identifying message via the internet. It shall be designed to fly only when its internet connection is active. In this discussion altitude is obtained by air-presure measurement. The message shall consist of: 1) Maker’s identification; 2) Maker’s assigned serial number; 3) Altitude of operator’s position; 4) UAS latitude and longitude; 5) UAS altitude; 6) A time marker.

FAA’s justification

Before considering the difficulties of implementing the FAA system, consider the FAA’s justification for it. The FAA uses more than one page (item IV D) to state its justification. Simplified, the FAA gives only two justifications: national security and assisting law enforcement. The FAA cites various crimes: smuggling, watching major sports events, interfering with airport operations, possibly crashing an airliner while landing or leaving an airport. If any of these crimes are detected, the FAA system will enable the UAS operator to be identified and prosecuted. That accounts for crimes that areinadvertent, such as unintended entry into prohibited airspace.But it ignores all crimes that are intended to be committed by UAS. Any person or organization that intends to use a UAS to committ a crime will make sure that its UAS either transmits a fake identification or just does not transmit any identification. UAS are easy to make (I have made and flown more than a dozen myself); there is no way that the FAA can prevent building non-conforming UAS. And UAS present only a small radar target. So, the intentional UAS crime will be committed by using a UAS that does not transmit identification.

The protective effect of the proposed FAA identification system will be minor at best, and it cannot protect against maleficient criminals.

Transistional proposal

When referring to the present system of amateur, recreational flying of model aircraft, the FAA states  “Over time, the FAA anticipates that most UAS without remote identification (present model aircraft) will reach the end of their useful lives or be phased out.” When discussing the fields from which model aircraft may be  flown (FAA recognized identification areas) the FAA states “After that date, the number of FAA recognized identification areas could therefore only remain the same or decrease.”

But, as I have stated earlier, there is no way that the FAA can prevent people from building UAS and wanting to fly them. The FAA misunderstands the UAS industries.

The FAA’s misunderstanding of the UAS industries creates regulatory chaos.

FAA understands the UAS industry as composed of a relatively few known commercial producers engaged in serially-numbered production of unmanned flying objects that can be used for commercial purposes. This organizational pattern is similarl to the organizational pattern for man-carrying aircraft, or, for that matter, the manufacture of automobiles. The essential charcteristic of this system is the large capital investment required.The aircraft around which the FAA system is built have four or six vertical rotors to provide lift and movement and are commonly called “drones”.  These are mechanically simple but electronically complex, because lift and movement are produced by varying only the speed of each rotor. These are inherently unstable and depend on a custom electronic micro-processor for stability and control. The electronic control system requires the greaest investment. It may be possible to fit this electronic control system into a custom airframe. but the aircraft will still be square or hexagonal. This makes no economic sense, since the existing manufacturers appear to be producing craft within the ranges of lift and duration technically possible.

The traditional UAS industry is not an industry at all. It is more like practicing cookery. While some means are produced entire, most meals are prepared, for one or a small group, by combining readily available materials according to the desires of the cook. The products of this so-called “UAS” industry are not drones, but are model aircraft, aircraft that derive their lift from their speed through the air, according to well-accepted aerodynamic principles, just as do man-carrying airplanes.  Hence they look like full-size airplanes; indeed some are built with such detailing that photographs of them can’t be distinguished from photos of the full-size version. This means that they have to have runways for the start and end of flight (taking-off and landing), and they have to keep moving at or above minimum flying speed. It also means that they are unsuited for the commercial purposes served by drones. The only such service provided, badly, by model aircraft was aerial photography, but that has been entirely taken over by drones.

The FAA failed to recognize the difference between drones, their makers, capabilities and users, and model aircraft, their makers, capabilities and users, and attempted to cover both industries in one regulation created for drones. The reasons why this is unworkable will be discussed next.

Drone-style regulation is unsuitable for regulating model aircraft

To begin with, the identification by maker’s name and serial number is entirely unworkable for model aircraft.

Requirements for a rule regulating the use of model aircraft

Identification to be by owner’s name and owner’s registration number attached to aircraft. No connection to internet.

Model airplane definition

An unmanned radio-controlled aircraft whose lift and control are derived from the aircraft’s forward motion through the air, with a mass not exceeding 55 pounds.

Model helicopter definition

An unmanned radio-controlled rotary wing aircraft whose lift and control are produced by varying the angle of attack of each rotary wing, with a mass not exceeding 55 pounds.

Model airfield definition

A runway for takeoff and landing with sufficient airspace around it for the activity of amateur, recreational flying of model aircraft. To be situated out of the traffic pattern of any full-scale airport, and either out of the controlled airspace of any airport or as permitted by that airport.

Need for model airfields

Model airfields are required for the activity of amateur, recreational flying of model aircraft to be continued, in such number and location as serves the needs of those who desire to participate in the acivity of amateur, recreational flying of model aircraft.”